The Winning Entry (Book)

A Book and Muff - Lisa Phillips

First item is a ladies book. I saw someone at Val Day a year or two ago that had used a handmade book to hide her cell phone in it during court so that it looked like she was reading a book instead of reading email. This wetted my taste for wanting to do this. Unfortunately to buy a book like this was not cost effective. So I put the idea on the backburner. Now that Bella has instituted a small challenge with a short window I thought I would try. The second item is a pair of gloves. I have timed gloves to two weeks. That's just the sewing. I do have other projects that need to be done in this time, but what the heck. I'm game. (Note: while the gloves did not get done beyond purchase of the leather, I did however manage a muff as well)

Before the start date of the competition, I decided to do my research and get supplies. In looking at how to make a book I took to the resource that I have readily available at home. The internet. So after surfing I found these websites: 
Fifteenth-Centruy Bookbinding Sturcture in Italy and the Netherlands: A Survey of Manuscripts and Printed books by Priscilla Anderson

Beginning Bookbinding by Lady Aniera Gwilt

Then I thought, I know someone really cool who does books, so I surfed for Meisterin Katarina Helene von Schönborn Bookbinding Resources. She's such an inspiration, yet I have still to take a class she teaches. I LOVE her work. Jumping from there I found:
A girdle book from the Princeton exhibition: Girdle book and other nifty books
A really nifty site on the Girdle book is Gothic Bookbinding : Girdle Book
The Book Arts Web had way too much information.

And upon just surfing YouTube and found these AWESOME how to bind a book from Italy , in Italian, but it is so good you get the jist by just watching. The best set was Bookbinding hand sewn

SO there I am. :) A small book and resources on how to get it done.

Sept 26, 2011: Bought the paper for the book. Found parchment sheets similar to the paper that the gentleman was using on the Italian bookbinding video. It is 24# drawing Parchment- natural from Hobby Lobby. I also found a hand bound book from India to be an inspiration. I also did find that the leather they offered was from Tandy, which is down the road and not worth paying the marked up price for the very dry leather at Hobby Lobby. My husband has 7mm plywood scrap that will work for the covers. :)

Sept 30, found a blog on closures - Happy Dance!! Book clasps and a blog on clasps - not available for purchase or hire, but cool!


Oct 1: the competition started. This day I spent after work folding the paper and cutting the sewing holes. I liked the idea from the Italian bookbinder video and utilized a woodworkers vise and a thin hand saw.

Oct 2: sewed the quires to the hemp cord I bought. Then went to A&S and didn't bring anything along to do.


Oct 4: started sanding down the pages to make them the same size and look even. Used the honeys spindle sander because I am not messing with his woodworking planes. This took longer than anticipated as I underestimated the need for proper clamping.

Between there and Oct 16 I had tried to get the pages sanded on a belt sander. The person I asked told me to take it to Kinkos to have them cut it. Yeah, not the same. Back to the spindle sander. From the article by Anderson I found that books made by Italians at the time had 7mm wood boards for covers. Seeing as that is a common size for plywood and there just happened to be scrap in the wood-shop, it got used. I drilled 3 holes in both boards at the same time as indicated by Lady Aniera and threaded through the hemp cord. I then frayed it apart and glued it to the board. Placing a piece of wax paper between the cover and the paper. I ended up using Elmers glue because the hide glue which would have made it more period was not drying. After that part was done I put in the hinge. I used twill tape due to its availability on hand and not having good luck with my linen as a binding hinge. 

Then it was time to cover. I thought long and hard about the time it would take to put a leather cover on the book (on top of the fact that I have glove leather at home, not book leather.) So in looking at more books and again referencing the Lady Aniera article I found that velvet was for the most luxurious books. I chose the remnants of my first court gown, a beautiful spruce green. It went better than in school when we had to cover our books. To tack it in place to begin with I used 3M spray adhesive (the quilters one) and finished with the Elmers glue on the edges. Then placed the front and back pages to cover the rest of the wood as indicated in all the above bookmaking links. 

I declined making a latch for it yet as I wasn’t happy with my test pieces. In future I may add this, but will need some insight from a metalworker on what I am doing wrong. Shortly I will be cutting out the paper so I may have my clandestine book.


Things I learned. 1) this is cool 2) people who do this have a LOT of talent 3) I need to take a class as just watching videos or reading about it just isn't my bag apparently. 4) I want to try again.

For the muff I wanted a smaller more period one than my previous muff, with a pocket inside for a hand warmer packet. It is made out of cut faux fur that I have had in my stash for a year. It wasn’t enough for a caplet, but it was exactly enough to make a self lined muff. The inspiration for this came from a variety of portraits and drawings and frankly the cutwork on the fur was too awesome to only be on the inside.

Total purchases made for this competition is the price of the paper. Everything else was from my stash. Or the wood bin. :)



© 2001 - 2011 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.